Christmas shopping suicide bomber strikes in Stockholm

A suspected suicide bomb attack which caused panic in Stockholm yesterday has been linked to lasting Muslim anger over three-year-old cartoons picturing the Prophet Mohamed as a dog.

A man found dead after explosions in one of the Swedish capital's main streets was said to have been hooked up to six pipe bombs and a backpack stuffed with nails. Police were investigating whether the man triggered two separate blasts, one that destroyed a parked car and then another, seconds later, in which he detonated explosives strapped to his body.

Bomb detection robots were used to examine his body as the scene was cordoned off. Two people caught in the explosions suffered minor injuries. Christmas shoppers fled as the street filled with smoke. Witnesses later told Swedish newspapers that the man shouted out in Arabic immediately before the blast.

The Swedish news agency TT said it had received an emailed warning ten minutes before the explosions. The same alert was sent to Sweden's security chiefs, the agency added. It said the email contained two sound files, one in Swedish and one in Arabic, expressing anger at Sweden's involvement in Afghanistan.

The message was also critical of the government's silence over the cartoons drawn by Lars Vilks and published in Swedish newspapers in 2007. The Prophet was drawn as a dog statue at the centre of a roundabout and led to Vilks receiving death threats. A similar controversy erupted in Denmark a year earlier when caricatures of the Prophet were published there in a daily paper.